How to become a Dog Trainer

Dog trainers use their knowledge of our canine friends to teach them to obey commands and behave properly. They have extensive knowledge of different dog breeds, behaviour, physiology, and needs. There are many areas to specialise in, such as working with dogs with behavioural issues, training police dogs and customs dogs, training seeing eye dogs, training companion dogs for people with mental illness and disability, working with dogs in film and television, and more.

If you have a passion for animals, are patient and confident, and want a job that can be extremely rewarding, becoming a dog trainer could be perfect for you.

What skills do I need as a dog trainer?

  • Fit & healthy
  • Patient & kind
  • Loves animals
  • Confident & reliable
  • Good communicator
  • Resilient & can make tough decisions
  • Outgoing & energetic
  • Empathetic & sensitive

What tasks can I expect to do?

  • Teach dogs to obey specific commands, both verbal & non-verbal
  • Socialise dogs with other animals & people
  • Train dogs for specific needs, such as seeing eye dogs & police dogs
  • Identify problematic behaviour in dogs & find ways to correct it
  • Advise owners on ways to reinforce training
  • Train dogs to take part in competitions
  • Monitor dogs’ health & report any concerns
  • Work with a variety of different dog breeds, sizes & temperaments

What industries do dog trainers typically work in?

  • Arts & Recreation Services
  • Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing
  • Other Services

What Career Cluster do dog trainers fit into?

Because the work involves specialised knowledge and hands-on skills, most dog trainers typically belong to the Maker Cluster.

What kind of lifestyle can I expect?

There are lots of opportunities for part-time work for dog trainers, so this job is great for those looking for a bit of extra flexibility. Because most of the work requires you to be hands-on, remote work opportunities are limited, but can be done either at a specialised clinic or even from your home.

Most dog trainers earn an average wage throughout their career.

You will be on your feet a lot and need to be relatively strong to handle larger dogs. Most importantly, you’ll need to be OK working with animals that might be aggressive or scared and potentially lash out. You might also have to assist owners in making some tough decisions for dogs who cannot be helped.

How to become a dog trainer

To become a dog trainer, you typically need to complete a relevant vocational training program, which can often be done as an apprenticeship. The training typically involves learning about animal behaviour, nutrition, health, and welfare, as well as practical skills such as handling, grooming, and training animals.

Some employers may also require certification or licensing in specific areas, such as handling of aggressive dogs or veterinary assisting.

If you’re in high school now and are thinking of a career as a dog trainer in the future, here are some steps you could take:

  • Try teaching a few new tricks to your family pet. See if you have the patience to stick with it until they learn.
  • Find work experience or volunteer opportunities that allow you to work with animals, such as at a vet clinic, zoo, animal shelter, or even on a farm.
  • Consider taking short courses and workshops to build on your skills and knowledge, or talk to a dog trainer and find out what the job is like.

Find out more here:

Similar careers to dog trainer

  • Animal Groomer
  • Veterinarian
  • Zookeeper
  • Biologist
  • Veterinary Nurse
  • Farmer
  • Conservationist
  • Animal Carer

Find out more about alternative careers.

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